Jai Price’s eyes were opened by Swedish rapper and electronic artist Elliphant last Saturday at Jack Rabbit Slims.
For the first time ever, I went into a performance purely blind. I knew nothing of Elliphant other than what small morsels I read on Wikipedia, and I went away with a far greater appreciation for what I experienced than if I’d done some prior listening. At first, I hated it. Rap and electronic music really aren’t my cup of tea, but I figured it was a prime chance to broaden my horizons. Well, like Shrek unto Fiona, Elliphant tore open my musical sphincter and filled it with her trunk of enlightenment.
Jack Rabbit Slim’s was absolutely packed. A wall-to-wall mass of bodies, swaying like kelp in a current. When the woman of the hour took to the stage, the crowd erupted into a frenzy. I’m still not sure whether I was experiencing a concert or some kind of low-key cult congregation. Hands reached out to her, and she responded in kind, bestowing her Swedish blessings upon us lowly peons, we happy few.
Now, let’s talk about the Elliphant (I couldn’t resist) in the room; The music.
Despite it not really being my thing, I found myself swept up in the intoxicating atmosphere all the same. Elliphant has a powerful stage presence, her accompanying DJ creating a pulsating drumbeat in between songs to keep the momentum going. This man effortlessly pulled the strings from behind the scenes, providing staggering electronic beats to accompany the singer’s harsh and unrelenting flurry of vocals. I can certainly appreciate that she has lyrical talent, and knows how to craft an electric environment. Not one to be immobile, Elliphant always seemed to be on the move, dancing, reaching, all with the fluidity of a stream in spring. She would often hold the microphone out to the crowd, letting them share the elation that was plain on her face. The highlight was Nobody Loves Me Badder, where females in the audience were implored to stand on the shoulders of their peers and embrace the lush vibes. You certainly didn’t need prior knowledge to be ensnared in the fanfare of it all, as the blaring electronica meshed well with her own rough yet heartfelt musical musings.
Audience interaction was some of the best I have seen, it was obvious Elliphant loved being under the multicoloured lights, soaking up the attention of her adoring fans like a sponge soaks up tears of joy. When asking a few audience members where they were from, she artfully denied their assertions, instead proclaiming that “you’re from space, we’re all from space”. This one remark effectively summed up the surreal tone of the night, while a cover of INXS’ Never Tear Us Apart provided a sombre yet solid change of pace. The encore rendition of Stranger was a feel-good high note that rounded off a sonically exhausting, yet highly enjoyable, evening of electronic ecstasy.